Skip to main content

Nighthawk Custom 10-8

Nighthawk Custom 10-8

Have you ever wanted a top-of-the-line combat pistol, one that was designed and built from the ground up for one purpose and one purpose alone: to keep its bearer alive? Well, I recently was given the opportunity of testing just such a handgun--the Nighthawk Custom 10-8--and I was impressed.

Nighthawk Custom is located in Berryville, Arkansas, and specializes in custom 1911 pistols. The staff includes some of the most noted 1911 master craftsmen in the industry today, with more than 75 years of combined experience. Nighthawk will produce a pistol to the customer's exact specifications and purpose--military/police service, concealed carry or even competition--but if you examine the catalog it quickly becomes obvious that Nighthawk's specialty is the no-frills combat pistol.

Now, no frills does not mean that the pistols are not attractive, but most of them display a subdued exterior that, to my way of thinking, emphasizes their intended role as serious, combat handguns. Nighthawk pistols don't have any features that aren't absolutely necessary for the task at hand, but they do possess every feature that is.


The Nighthawk 10-8 was designed in collaboration with 10-8 Consulting, which provides consulting services, small arms/tactics training and specialized products for law enforcement, military and private security professionals. At first glance, the 10-8 appears to be sort of a plain Jane pistol, but close examination shows the quality of parts and workmanship that went into it.


The steel slide features front and rear grasping grooves, allowing the shooter to charge the pistol with a variety of grips or when wearing gloves. The ejection port is lowered and radiused to ensure positive ejection of spent cases, and all of the edges--including the sights--have been radiused.

Possibly the most attractive (and practical) feature of the 10-8 are the sights. The super rugged 10-8 Performance rear sight, designed by pistolsmith Hilton Yam, is machined from hardened bar stock and features a generously sized U notch while the front of the slide has been cut to accept a Trijicon night sight. This combination provides a sharp sight picture and allows fast target acquisition and transitioning, even under low-light conditions.

A stainless steel match grade barrel, with a nicely crowned muzzle, is positioned by a stainless steel, match barrel bushing. Unlike many of today's custom 1911s, the 10-8 uses the standard recoil spring setup.

The forged steel frame boasts an integral plunger tube. The gun has a long, aluminum trigger--with a hidden overtravel stop--and the slide release, thumb safety and magazine catch are all extended, but not so much that they interfere with normal handling or most styles of grip. An extended beavertail grip safety provides enhanced recoil control and comfort.


The 10-8's VZ Diamondback grips' textured surface provides a secure purchase and superior recoil control. In fact, I believe that you'd have to tear the skin off the palms of my hand to get this pistol away from me.

To improve overall handling even further, the frontstrap and mainspring housing are checkered, and metal has been removed from under the trigger guard for a high grip. The magazine well opening has been aggressively beveled to ensure smooth reloads while a lanyard attachment point is located on the bottom of the mainspring housing.

As is now standard on most duty-type pistols, the 10-8 comes with a Dawson Light Speed Rail for mounting tactical lights and other equipment. Finally, the entire pistol is finished with a high tech ceramic finish known as PermaKote. Its flat-black appearance is not only eminently practical for a combat handgun but bespeaks ruggedness.


table#specialTable {padding: none;background: black; font-family: Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif;text-align: left;font-size: 11px;}table#specialTable tr {color: red; background:blue;}#specialTable td {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #cccccc; color:black;border-right: 1px solid black; border-bottom: 1px solid black;}#specialTable td.noright {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #adadad;color: black;border-right: none;border-left: none; border-bottom: 1px solidblack;}#specialTable td.noleft {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #adadad;color: black;border-right: 1px solid black;border-left: none; border-bottom:1px solid black;}#specialTable td.noborder {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #669966;color: black ;border-right: none; border-bottom: 1px solid black;}#specialTable th {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #ffffff; color:black;font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;text-align:left;font-size: 9px;}#specialTable tr.offcolor td { background: #ffffff;}#specialTable tr.footer {}#specialTable td.footer {}#specialTable h3 { margin: 0; padding:0;font-size: 15px; border-bottom: 2pxsolid #669966;}.bottom { 2px solid black;}

NIGHTHAWK CUSTOM 10-8

Caliber:.45 ACP
Capacity:8 + 1
Barrel Length:5 in. match
Overall Length:8.7 in.
Weight:40 oz
Finish:Perma Kote
Sights:rear, 10-8 Performance U notch; front, Trijicon serrated blade with tritium insert
Grips:VZ Diamondback with 10-8 logo
Notes:front and rear grasping grooves on slide; elongated hammer; Dawson Light Speed rail adapter. Optional ambidextrous thumb safeties, SureFire X200 with Dawson adapter interface
Price:$2,775
Manufacturer:Nighthawk Custom, nighthawkcustom.com, 877-423-4230

The slide stop, thumb safety and magazine catch are all slightly elongated, and the extended beavertail grip safety makes for comfortable shooting. The VZ Diamondback grip panels provide a firm hold.

At our first opportunity, my friend Butch Simpson and I headed for the range with the 10-8 and a lot of ammo and ran it through the standard accuracy testing with five different types of .45s, the results of which can be seen on accompanying table.

The pistol showed a definite preference for lighter, faster projectiles--with honors going to Speer 200-grain +P Gold Dots that put five rounds into an impressive 1.38 inches--but the 10-8 produced impressive groups with all five brands of ammunition.

I then set up a pair of USPSA targets, and Butch and I spent an enjoyable hour running the 10-8 through a series of offhand drills at seven, 10 and 15 yards, firing the pistol supported and unsupported (one handed).

We were both impressed with the 10-8's accuracy, sights, handling, reloading speed and overall ergonomics, and out of the many rounds we fired, only two landed outside the A zone. Butch was likewise impressed by the sights, noting that they were easily picked up in the dappled shade of midafternoon.

That evening, I reshot some of the same drills under low-light conditions and found the 10-8's unique sighting arrangement to be one of the more practical I have ever used. Unlike with a three dot system--where I always seem to waste time attempting to line up the dots--with the 10-8's wide rear notch and single glowing dot up front I could quickly and accurately engage multiple close-range targets.

I also used the 10-8 to compete in several local USPSA matches and found it to be a fine handling, fast shooting pistol. Using Cor-Bon's Performance Match ammo, I was able to engage multiple target arrays quickly and accurately, recoil control was above par, and both the pistol and its magazines functioned 100 percent.

In one match I captured second place with a respectable 78.04 percent score, so I can tell you this is one shootin' pistol.

I can think of only one thing I'd change on the 10-8: an arched mainspring housing. I tend to shoot low with a 1911 fitted with a flat housing and cannot for the life of me understand their current popularity, especially on custom pistols. I would also prefer a slide stop lever that has less extension.

Having said that, though, Nighthawk's 10-8 is without a doubt one of the finest pistols I have ever had the chance to shoot. And while it costs a lot, remember that quality has its price, and it is generally worth it.

table#specialTable {padding: none;background: black; font-family: Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif;text-align: left;font-size: 11px;}table#specialTable tr {color: red; background:blue;}#specialTable td {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #cccccc; color:black;border-right: 1px solid black; border-bottom: 1px solid black;}#specialTable td.noright {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #adadad;color: black;border-right: none;border-left: none; border-bottom: 1px solidblack;}#specialTable td.noleft {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #adadad;color: black;border-right: 1px solid black;border-left: none; border-bottom:1px solid black;}#specialTable td.noborder {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #669966;color: black ;border-right: none; border-bottom: 1px solid black;}#specialTable th {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #ffffff; color:black;font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;text-align:left;font-size: 9px;}#specialTable tr.offcolor td { background: #ffffff;}#specialTable tr.footer {}#specialTable td.footer {}#specialTable h3 { margin: 0; padding:0;font-size: 15px; border-bottom: 2pxsolid #669966;}.bottom { 2px solid black;}

ACCURACY RESULTS |

NIGHTHAWK CUSTOM 10-8

.45 ACPBullet Weight (gr.)Avg. Velocity (fps)Avg. Group (in.)
UMC JHP1851,0162.13
Speer Gold Dot +P2001,0172.00
Winchester SXT2308542.50
Cor-Bon Performance Match2307242.38
Black Hills FMJ2308202.50

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

KelTec CMR30 22WMR Review - Compact, Versatile & Fun to Shoot

KelTec CMR30 22WMR Review - Compact, Versatile & Fun to Shoot

Designed for lightweight, low recoil accuracy, the CMR30 .22 WMR features a nice, single-action trigger, ambidextrous dual non-reciprocating operating handles, ambidextrous safety and heel catch magazine release. The KelTec CMR30 is a .22 Magnum carbine that holds 30 rounds in each of its two flush-fit magazines. That's a lot of firepower for a 3.8-pound, semi-auto, collapsible truck gun. It comes out of the box as you see it, including Magpul sights and ambidextrous, non-reciprocating dual operating handles. She's a straight blow-back tack driver that delivers a ton of fun.

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the P17 is definitely an option for you. At less than 14 ounces fully loaded, and barely longer than a dollar bill, the P17 is concealable for pretty much anyone. The threaded barrel, Picatinny-style accessory rail, ambidextrous safety, ambidextrous magazine release and three (3) 16rd magazines come standard. That's a lot of value added in such a small package.

Federal Premium Punch Defensive Handgun Ammo: Reviewed & Tested

Federal Premium Punch Defensive Handgun Ammo: Reviewed & Tested

Handguns editor Scott Rupp fires some Federal Punch .380 defensive handgun ammo into ballistics gel the range for a performance test run.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged.SIG P365 Review Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

The Smith & Wesson Model 13 revolver was a combat classic back in the day.Smith & Wesson Model 13 Revolver Revolvers

Smith & Wesson Model 13 Revolver

Payton Miller - July 31, 2020

The Smith & Wesson Model 13 revolver was a combat classic back in the day.

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo with these 10 low-priced pistols.10 Cheap Guns Under $250 Compact

10 Cheap Guns Under $250

Evan Brune - September 24, 2015

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo...

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want one.Ruger 57 Pistol Review Reviews

Ruger 57 Pistol Review

James Tarr - June 05, 2020

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want...

See More Trending Articles

More 1911

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a two-tone aluminum-framed model in 9mm (model # 6758). This review by James Tarr will focus on the 9mm.Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 9mm Review 1911

Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 9mm Review

James Tarr - May 01, 2019

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a...

Springfield Armory's Ronin Operator is an attractive, reliable 1911 that's available at a great price.Springfield Armory Ronin Operator 9mm 1911 Review Reviews

Springfield Armory Ronin Operator 9mm 1911 Review

J. Scott Rupp - November 19, 2020

Springfield Armory's Ronin Operator is an attractive, reliable 1911 that's available at a...

The Ed Brown FX1 RMR is fun to customize and even more fun to shoot.Review: Ed Brown FX1 RMR 1911

Review: Ed Brown FX1 RMR

James Tarr - March 13, 2019

The Ed Brown FX1 RMR is fun to customize and even more fun to shoot.

The 1911 Ultra Compact pistol from SIG SAUER is offered in .45 ACP and 9mm with an all-black nitride finish and blackwood grips, with a nickel PVD finish and G10 grips, or with a two-tone finish and rosewood grips.SIG 1911 Ultra Compact 9mm Review

SIG 1911 Ultra Compact 9mm Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft

The 1911 Ultra Compact pistol from SIG SAUER is offered in .45 ACP and 9mm with an all-black...

See More 1911

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Handguns App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now